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With 8/10, Sharad Pawar is the best striker in Maha LS polls

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With 8/10, Sharad Pawar is the best striker in Maha LS polls

Mumbai, June 6 (IANS) The woefully truncated Nationalist Congress Party (SP) led by the indefatigable Sharad Pawar managed to put up the best show in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra, surpassing all expectations.

As a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) key ally, the NCP(SP) had fielded candidates in just 10 seats with the new symbol of a ‘Trumpeter’, in comparison to the Shiv Sena(UBT)’s 21 nominees and Congress’ 17 contestants. Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats.

However, Pawar lived up to the old sobriquets pasted on him, like ‘Chanakya’ or ‘Machiavelli’ and trumped in eight of the 10 seats, besides losing one seat (Satara) narrowly owing to a similar symbol allotted to another candidate there.

Overall, the MVA gave a spectacular showing, bagging 30 of the 48 seats, relegating the ruling MahaYuti allies to a single digit each — Shiv Sena (7), Bharatiya Janata Party (9), and Nationalist Congress Party (1).

There is also an independent elected from Sangli who is likely to support the MVA, which could up its tally to 31 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Despite leading a broken party with a new name (NCP-SP), and unknown symbol (‘Trumpeter’) compared with his nephew and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar who walked away with the original name (NCP) and symbol (Clock), the smiling Sharad Pawar was unruffled.

Racing against time — the original party had vertically split in July 2023 — in just nine months, Sharad Pawar had the NCP(SP) baby ready for a devastating delivery vis-a-vis the NCP now with Ajit Pawar.

In the five seats (including one given to an ally) it fought, the NCP won a solitary seat — Raigad, by state chief Sunil Tatkare — and the huge embarrassment was the loss of Sunetra Pawar, wife of Ajit Pawar in the Pawar clan’s den of Baramati, bagged by her ‘nanad’ Supriya Sule for the fourth time.

The NCP(SP) got a handsome vote share (10.27 per cent) compared with the NCP’s measly (3.60 per cent).

The outcome lived up to the claims of both ‘broken-hearted’ leaders — Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray — that though their parties were split and the majority of elected leaders along with the names/symbols were snatched (by Ajit Pawar and CM Eknath Shinde) — “the ordinary masses and voters are with us”.

The split shock generated immense sympathy to push the MahaYuti into a corner at the hustings, and it tumbled from a tally of 41 seats in 2019 to 17 in 2024.

Displaying the qualities of a wizened, experienced leader, only Sharad Pawar appeared cool and unperturbed after the NCP he founded 25 years ago cracked into two pieces.

As other worried leaders, including Supriya Sule, Dr Jitendra Awhad, and Jayant Patil wondered, Sharad Pawar had airily declared that he would build a strong new party after all the deadwood had drifted away.

A day after the LS results, his grand-nephew Rohit Pawar, MLA, revealed that around 18-19 MLAs from the Ajit Pawar faction reportedly yearn to return to Bhishma Pitamaha’s fold!

The developments were reminiscent of Sharad Pawar’s famed rally of October 18, 2019, when he had addressed an LS by-election rally in the rain in Satara for his party nominee Shriniwas Patil and ensured the defeat of a Chhatrapati — the royal blood Udayanraje P. Bhonsle, 13th direct descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and BJP candidate.

Interestingly, the same Chhatrapati Udayanraje P. Bhonsle has won this time from Satara trouncing the NCP(SP)’s Shashikant J. Shinde by a tin-thin margin (32,771 votes), which was allegedly owing to a similar symbol (‘Trumpet’) which confused the voters and chipped off Shinde’s share.

“He is the Man of Series. His name is Sharad Pawar”, posted an elated NCP(SP) General Secretary Dr Jitendra Awhad post-results, reflecting the mood of many in Maharashtra.

The eight new MPs elected across regions are Supriya Sule (Baramati), Dr Amol Kolhe (Shirur), Nilesh Lanke (Ahmednagar), Bajrang Sonwane (Beed), Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil (Madha), Bhaskar Bagare (Dindori), Amar Kale (Wardha) and Suresh Mhatra alias Balyamama (Bhiwandi).

At 83, the sprightly Sharad Pawar not only tended to the NCP(SP) home flock but also campaigned vigorously for the MVA-INDIA bloc candidates in the state and out of Maharashtra, contributing to many more victories.

Soon after the party split in 2023 when he promised to rebuild the party, a mediaperson asked him ‘who could be the most reliable face of the party’, and a grinning Sharad Pawar raised his right hand and declared: “Sharad Pawar..!”.

Evoking much mirth then for his sense of humour, nine months later, a victorious Sharad Pawar winked and had the last laugh…!

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at:


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